After the occupation of Crimea and part of Donbas in 2014, world leaders imposed sanctions on some Russian citizens and companies in the military-industrial sector and closely related enterprises.
Sanctions from the US, EU, Canada some other countries were also imposed on the well-known Russian Kalashnikov concern, which is part of the state corporation Rostech. The concern's assets were blocked abroad, as well as individuals and legal entities in these countries were banned from any format of cooperation with the corporation.
In 2018, the concern even complained that it lost up to 90% of the global civilian weapons market due to sanctions.
However, as it turned out, weapons made by the Kalashnikov concern, despite all the sanctions, are still sold in the US.
More than a year ago, the AV-46 match air pistol appeared on the websites of American weapons stores. Weapon connoisseurs immediately recognized the Russian IZH-46, which is sold under the Baikal brand.
These pistols are manufactured only by the Izhevsk Mechanical Plant in Udmurtia, Russian Federation. The plant is part of the sanctioned Kalashnikov Concern and also manufactures guided artillery shells, drones, and other equipment and weapons used by Russia in the war against Ukraine.
How did the weapons of the sanctioned Kalashnikov Concern hit the US market?
Same pistols, "different" manufacturers
The US arms dealers make no secret that they do sell IZH-46M pistols made in Russia. At the same time, according to them, these guns are not from the Izhevsk Mechanical Plant anymore, so they can allegedly be imported and sold in the US.
"Air Venturi has negotiated the construction and purchase of this iconic AV 46-M target air pistol from Alfa Precision, a non-military Russian barrelmaker," the store wrote.
According to American users on the forum, the AV 46-M pistol comes in a plain cardboard box with no manual and no spare parts.
In fact, the AV 46-M pistol differs from the original IZH-46M only in the color of the grip and the inscription on the barrel. While earlier there was written a manufacturer "Izh", now it says "Made in Russia by Alfa Precision". There are no other differences.
Mysterious company with a single employee
There is a bare minimum of information about the mentioned company Alfa Precision, which is supposed to be the manufacturer of AV 46-M, in open sources. The company has websites in Russian and French, as well as several Facebook pages. Only one of them has a French registration. The other three (1, 2, 3) are registered in Russia.
On the French version of the website, Alfa Precision actively sells different arms under Baikal brand, including sports and air guns. In particular, rifles and carbines of the Izhevsk plant are also presented on the website.
In France, Alfa Precision sells Baikal rifles from the Izhevsk Mechanical Plant.
Weapon connoisseurs will easily find the same IZH-46 on the French website of the company. However, now it is not available for sale.
Moreover, according to websites tracking imports and exports, the company successfully trades with South Africa, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Serbia.
Alfa Precision (ÎÎÎ "Àëüôà Ïðåñèæí") was officially registered in Izhevsk in 2016. According to the data, only one person works in the company. The company is located at the residential building on Tsvetochnaya St. 6, located a few blocks from the abovementioned Izhevsk Mechanical Plant.
However, the production of pistols was not mentioned on the Russian website of Alfa Precision. According to it, the company manufactures and sells only barrel blanks.
The company shows the manufacture, expensive equipment, and large-scale production in the commercials published on social media. That is, the production is definitely located not in a residential skyscraper.
At the same time, clients of the Alfa Precision online store are offered to make an order through individual entrepreneur Sokolov Alexey Valerievich. There is not much information about him. The man is from the village of Staroye Mart'yanovo in Udmurtia. Now, he lives in Izhevsk, Russia. In 2015, Alexey served in the army.
The man also has a page on LinkedIn, where he mentions that he works as a sales manager at Alfa Precision. There is no more information about Alexey.
Even less is known about the head of the firm. According to official data, it is Mikhail Kozlov. In addition to Izhevsk Alfa Precision ("Àëüôà Ïðåñèæí"), since 2017, Mykhail owns another company Alfa Precision (ÎÎÎ "Àëüôà ÏðåñèæÅí" – with letter "Å") in Vyatskiye Polyany, Kirov region, Russia. The company is registered at Lenin St. 333A, r. 2.
Interestingly, the same-name company Alfa Precision in Vyatskiye Polyany is registered in the same town and on the same street as the plant "Molot" which produces 26 types of rifles and anti-tank systems "Metis."
In 2015, Russia's state television reported that the company had been withdrawn from the Kalashnikov Concern. Obviously, the company did it to avoid sanctions. However, this did not help. In 2017, they were also included in the list of the US sanctions as a company related to the Kalashnikov Concern.
Front company for Kalashnikov Concern
Neither the Kalashnikov Concern nor Alfa Precision has publicly announced their business ties. The Kalashnikov Concern has never announced that it had sold anyone the right to manufacture its IZH-46. The official website of the Izhevsk Mechanical Plant has information that they produce weapons in Izhevsk. The Rostech website echoes its statement.
It is noteworthy that earlier the Kalashnikov Concern sued for the copyright of the AK-47 from relatives of the inventor Mikhail Kalashnikov. So, it is unlikely that a defense company would allow anyone to trade their pistols without legal permission.
Thus, it is possible that a company with one employee from Izhevsk, which has a plant for producing pistols, as well as an unknown company registered not far from the sanctioned plant, is just a way to skirt the sanctions.
Considering these facts, OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control), a division of the US Treasury Department that regulates US sanctions may be interested in Alfa Precision case.
In addition, EU countries must impose sanctions on Alfa Precision to prevent such cases in the future. Russia, which exports terrorism to neighboring countries, should not have an opportunity to export weapons.
This is not the first time when the Kalashnikov Concern and the Izhevsk Mechanical Plant have found themselves at the epicenter of the sanctions scandal. Earlier, EP (Ekonomichna Pravda) wrote that Kalashnikov used Lipetsk Mechanical Plant, which did not fall under Western sanctions in 2014, to order equipment from foreign manufacturers. In particular, the Russian sanctioned concern used LMP to purchase tools for metal processing specifically for Izhevsk Mechanical Plant. According to the e-mail chain between the managers of the companies that the Anonymous hacker group made public, the Lipetsk plant sent out requests for tools from manufacturers from the EU, US, Japan and South Korea.
The material was prepared according to the information provided by the Economic Security Council of Ukraine. ESCU is an organization created by Ukrainian business to counter the economic front of Russian aggression against Ukraine.